EDIT 21.8.2022 1222z: According to the latest development, all information is pointing to the fact, that GSX is not responsible for the recent CTD wave in the MSFS. I would like to therefore withdraw my claim, that GSX is responsible for these crashes.
Hi everyone! My name is Jan, and I have been a member of the flight sim community for nearly 10 years now, starting with the FS2004 (because my PC wasn’t able to run the FSX at the time), then going through the FSX into the Prepar3D, using Microsoft Flight Simulator as my daily driver now.
I would also like to stress that the article below is based on my personal opinions and views, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the flight sim community as a whole.
History of GSX
First of all, a little history. GSX, or Ground Services X, is a legendary addon which was first introduced over 10 years ago as a groundbreaking FSX addon. At the time, the only real competitor was Aerosoft’s AES, which stands for Airport Enhancement Services. While AES provided a very decent experience, it needed to be crafted by the developer to suit a specific scenery, and customers then had to buy credits, which were then used to unlock AES on specific addon sceneries.
When GSX was released, I think it’s fair to say, that it was groundbreaking. It was released as a general product working anywhere, which was stunning when compared to AES, where you had to “buy” it for every single addon scenery. It was reading the scenery’s AFCAD, and then based on its data it tried to tailor how the vehicles should move and where the plane should be pushed back. Over the course of several years, it received numerous updates, and I would like to give the FSDT a credit for maintaining the support for so long. During 2018, FSDT released their first payware expansion for the GSX, GSX Level 2, which brought a very easy editor in which you could easily replace scenery jetways with SODE jetways. Most of all, however, it brought animated passengers for the first time in the flight sim history.
When speaking about the GSX for Prepar3D, we cannot say it was perfect. Sometimes the vehicle behaviour was a little bit clumsy, sometimes the vehicles were driving through each other, and also many of the ground handling principles were sometimes unrealistic. For example, baggage loading tied to boarding. Apart from this, the experience was very polished and I have rarely encountered any significant bug and it still provided an excellent ground handling experience, with no real competitor being even close, even across the most used flight simulators.
GSX for MSFS
When I heard that GSX is coming to the MSFS, I was ecstatic. Since the default MSFS ground handling left much to be desired and having many downsides, I have considered this one of the most important addons coming to the MSFS, even if it would be a simple port from the Prepar3D version. When I saw some of the previews, it only boosted my excitement, because it simply showed exactly what I had in P3D, but in the MSFS, which is a much superior platform.
Once GSX Pro for MSFS was released, I quickly jumped for my phone, so I could authorize my payment and bought it immediately. I was anxious for the installation to finish so I could finally try it out.
And then the problems began.
Problems with GSX for MSFS
One of the first problems I encountered was, that I was simply unable to launch the GSX in the simulator at all, having a “Couatl scripting engine hasn’t started” error message. When browsing through the forum, I discovered, that FSDT’s distribution platform provider has not yet correctly synchronized all their files across all their nodes worldwide. Since this issue was partially present with the GSX Walk-in update in the P3D, I was hoping that FSDT had learned their lesson by preparing these things in advance, so it works correctly once released. I was wrong, unfortunately.
While this was addressed relatively swiftly, I have started to get a bad feeling about all that. Of course, many bugs appeared after that.
Couatl (the engine behind GSX) froze, which resulted in the need to restart the whole flight simulator (as a simple restart of Couatl hadn’t solved the issue). GSX was also unable to read my addon airports, taking the layout from the default sceneries, which resulted in it being unusable in many cases. I have also heard from my friends, that GSX had started to give them CTDs in the various stages of the flight. Their arguments were, that it started exactly when they installed the addon. Many minor bugs are present as well, ranging from the GSX pop-up menu not being displayed, or being downright frozen when some handling service is in progress, to vehicles driving straight through my plane, or being confused in general. These issues were not present in the P3D version.
All this gives me a very sour taste in my mouth, as I feel like a beta tester who actually had to pay in order to be one, and also when comparing it with the previews many flight sim streamers made, I am feeling that I have a very different product. I also refuse to believe that it was properly tested, and it seems that it was very rushed out of the door. This, combined with Umberto’s general attitude shown on the forum, sometimes on the very verge of arrogance, gives a pretty bad customer experience.
This attitude is making me furious, as this is starting to be an industry standard for many addons, which are being released incomplete, and asking for a full price. Yes, I am looking at you, PMDG.
I see all this as a serious blow to the FSDT’s reputation and leaves me on a verge of considering to ask for a refund. GSX, in its current state, is definitely not worth the 31 euros (excluding VAT) they ask for.
To conclude, this is a legendary Prepar3D addon that has degraded into a buggy mess…